How Small Businesses Can Attract New Customers - Page 2

By Jennifer Schiff
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Make Facebook Your Friend

Social media, particularly Facebook, has been a fantastic and inexpensive way of attracting new customers for Megan Healy and Amy Trelenberg, co-owners of Shopmamie.com.

The two friends set up a Shopmamie.com Facebook fan page and update it every day. They also use Facebook, Twitter and their blog to let their target audience — fashion-conscious women ages 18 to 40 — know about Shopmamie contests, special offers, events, style tips and news.

Shopmamie.com also offers customers special discounts for being a Facebook fan. “It’s just an added incentive to keep updated with us,” said Trelenberg. “We want to draw as many new customers and fans to us as possible, so we try to create as much interest and buzz as possible. Facebook helps get people to our site… and generates sales for us.”

Whiner & Diner Eco-Chic Pet Accessories
Whiner & Diner Eco-Chic Pet Accessories
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Become an Expert

For Catherine Simms, the co-owner of Whiner & Diner Eco-Chic Pet Accessories, writing articles to establish herself as an expert on pet care, has been a leading source of new customer acquisition. For example, when it occurred to Simms that many dog owners were not aware that an elevated feeder (which Whiner & Diner sells) is better for their dog, she decided to write about it.

She then posted her article, “The Healthy Benefits of Elevated Dog Feeders,” which included information about and a link to Whiner & Diner, on her site, on her blog and on several online article submission sites. The article took off, getting picked up by other sites and shared by pet owners, which in turn brought new customers to Whiner & Diner. The only cost to Simms was a bit of time and energy.

Koa Coffee Plantation
Koa Coffee Plantation
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Use Affiliate Marketing

Linda Caroll, who is in charge of “all things Internet” for Koa Coffee Plantation, a small Kona coffee plantation in Hawaii, likes to quote department store magnate John Wanamaker on the difficulty of reaching new customers: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; trouble is I don’t know which half.”

“It’s so true,” said Caroll. “The potential for wasted advertising dollars is a painful reality to small business operators.” That’s why KoaCoffee.com decided to try affiliate marketing, because it doesn’t waste dollars.

“With traditional CPM advertising or even CPC (cost per click) or PPC (pay per click), costs may or may not be recouped,” she explained, whereas affiliate marketing is pay per action, which (to Koa and to Caroll) made better economic sense.

To help ensure the success of its program, Caroll chose affiliate networks ShareASale.com and AvantLink.com, and sought out affiliates who really understood Koa Coffee’s product: high quality, upper price range coffee that appeals to sophisticated buyers.

In return for marketing KoaCoffee.com, the company offered affiliates commissions that were above the coffee industry average, as well as one-on-one support and the tools and incentives Caroll felt would help them to succeed. As she explained: “Without successful affiliates, there would be no sales or new customers.”

To date, KoaCoffee.com’s affiliate marketing strategy has been very successful — “a win-win for everyone,” said Carroll — with new customers coming to the site and buying coffee daily.

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff writes about IT and small business issues and runs a blog for and about small businesses.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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This article was originally published on December 15, 2009

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